from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Plural form of shellback.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Veteran sailors called shellbacks shave the heads of the uninitiated pollywogs.

    The Attack on the Liberty

  • In between pulls on the rope, old shellbacks sang out, “Hang, you sons of bitches, hang!!”

    A Furnace Afloat

  • The first-timers, or “pollywogs,” were subjected to the ritual dunkings that turned them into “trusty shellbacks.”

    The Do-or-Die Men

  • Two-thirds of them were crusty shellbacks who had fared under his command before.


  • Set he, 'Look' ere, you shellbacks, if yer lead a life of sin, '

    Fire Down Below (2)

  • "Yes, sir; French sailors are not like English ones, nor do they resemble our American shellbacks, who do know a thing or two!" replied the colonel.

    The Ghost Ship A Mystery of the Sea

  • "I've heard some of the old shellbacks talking about things," he said.

    The Ghost Pirates: Chapter 14

  • Now every honest sailor knows that certain superstitions are gospel fact, such as the bad luck brought by a cross-eyed Finn, a black cat, or going to sea on Friday, and these eighteenth century shellbacks must not be too severely chided for deserting while they had the chance.

    The Old Merchant Marine; A chronicle of American ships and sailors

  • Between two bearded shellbacks Charley, fastened with somebody's long muffler to a deck ring-bolt, wept quietly, with rare tears wrung out by bewilderment, cold, hunger, and general misery.

    The Nigger of the Narcissus

  • Two elderly hard-weather shellbacks, fast side by side, whispered dismally to one another about the landlady of a boarding-house in Sunderland, whom they both knew.

    The Nigger of the Narcissus


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